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Minnesota State Fair 2021: The best food options that avoid the crowds

Food writer Haley Nelson has been looking for foods off the beaten track.
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In a typical year, between 100,000 and 200,000 people visit the State Fair in any given day.

While numbers are going to be lower this year, there’s still going to be a lot bodies crammed into the fairgrounds.

So how can you enjoy the State Fair – and your favorite State Fair foods – while still doing some semblance of social distancing?

Explore food booths that are off the beaten track!

Get There Early And Grab Breakfast

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The fairgrounds open at 6 a.m., and most of the booths and buildings open at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m.

If you get there early, you can avoid some of the heavy crowds. And while you’re there, why not pick up breakfast at Hansen’s Amusement Foods, located outside the Horse Barn? They serve breakfast sandwiches, breakfast corn dogs, hash browns, and other breakfast foods.

Location: North side of Judson Ave., between Stevens & Liggett streets, outside the Horse Barn

Explore The Periphery

This is the perfect year to go beyond traditionally busy foodie hubs like the Food Building and International Bazaar and explore some areas and food booths in the periphery of the fair:

New food area directly south of Little Farm Hands

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Three new food vendors are tucked away in this little nook in the northern area of the fair:

  • Baba’s (serving a variety of hummus bowls)
  • Scenic 61 (serving sashimi tuna tacos)
  • Spinning Wylde (serving dye-free cotton candy and fresh watermelon juice)

Northern area (but not quite to North End)

Near the northern most area of the fair you’ll find a variety of food booths, including Ollie’s Crab Fritters, Blueberry Mini Donuts and Cajun Cheese Curds (new vendor), and Quesadilla Junction.

North End

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The North End provides a quiet place to sit for awhile and enjoy some great fair food. Order some refreshing non-alcoholic drinks or a Grilled Sota Sandwich at Brim, or head into The Hangar for open air seating. 

They serve a variety of beverages and food, including the Island Hopper – an official new food for 2021. It’s a boneless chicken/rice/pineapple dish served in a hollowed-out half pineapple.

There are places you can go, even at the Minnesota State Fair, that are a bit quieter. 

This is the year to explore them!

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